Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Whether hiking or kayaking, this little gal…

December 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Nature

…is frequently seen, but rarely for long enough to admire.

From many bird-lovers to another, deep thanks to our bird buddy, Len Blumin:

Today at Miller Point Boat Launch (Nick’s Cove, Tomales Bay) we got good views of a female Belted Kingfisher at the north end of the parking lot.

These shy birds are difficult to approach, so we were pleased she sat in the morning light for a photo.

Kingfishers are rather distinctive, to say the least. Huge head and bill, short legs and tiny feet.

Our Belted Kingfisher is widespread in the U.S., taking fish that it spies from a perch near the water or even an irrigation ditch. Their distinctive rattling call is known to all birders. The female Belted has orange on the flanks and across the belly, whereas the male is blue-gray with a blue breast-band. Both have very shaggy crests.

Kingfishers are a family in the order Coraciformes, a spectacular assemblage of some of the most beautiful bird families in the world. Along with the Kingfishers the order includes Todies, Motmots, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoes and Hornbills. How’s that for variety? The colors of our North American kingfishers are relatively subdued when compared to those seen worldwide. See “Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers” by C. Hilary and Kathie Fry. Along our border with Mexico you can sometimes see the Ringed Kingfisher and the Green Kingfisher, but you’ll have to go further south to get the other 3 New World Kingfishers (Costa Rica is a good spot for the Pygmy and Amazon Kingfishers). And then travel the world to see 90 other Kingfisher species, many with simply blinding beauty. Some specialize in eating land animals rather than fish.

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